There’s no denying that all athletes have style. The touchdown dances, the acrobatic slam dunks, the spin moves and the bicycle kicks and the all-around attitude on the court or field or ice—it all gives us a little glimpse in players’ personalities. But it’s outside of the game where the world’s top athletes distinguish themselves the most, swapping uniforms and team colors for fierce fits on city streets, red carpets, runway shows and Instagram feeds. “It can be a statement, it can be a way to start a conversation or change a tradition,” says Steven Kolb, president and CEO of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, a group of almost 500 American fashion designers, of the way athletes have embraced—and excelled in—the elite world of fashion.
As athletes continue to demand attention with their sartorial choices and superfly style, the editors of Sports Illustrated, in partnership with the CFDA, unveil the fourth annual Fashionable 50 list, honoring the world’s most stylish athletes.
THE STYLE EXPERTS
Featured in the July 29–August 5, 2019 issue of Sports Illustrated, the Fashionable 50 list was selected by a panel of stylists, fashion editors and executives and other influencers across the sports and fashion industries. Subscribe to SI here.
President and CEO, CFDA
CEO and stylist, Thomas Faison Agency
Visual architect, KMCME
Athlete stylist and creative director
Creative director, The Parker Mays Collective
Executive features director, InStyle
The Most Fashionable 2019
You know Serena Williams the tennis player—the fist-pumping, catsuit-wearing, candid (and sometimes controversial) woman who has dominated the sport for more than two decades. But the 23-time Grand Slam champion demands attention off the court too, displaying her relatable (usually) but ravishingly chic (always) style and pursuing her longtime passion for design with a self-funded clothing line, all while promoting messages of equality and empowerment. And so, another honor for Serena: She heads SI’s fourth annual Fashionable 50 list, honoring the most stylish athletes in sports.
WHAT DOES FASHION MEAN TO YOU? “My whole career has been really about tennis and fashion. I always try to make a statement when I walk out on the court—to be bold and to be unique and to kind of transcend. I always try to send the message of just being confident and being fierce.”
ON CRITICISM OF HER STYLE: “People always have things to say when you're wearing fashion. It could be good things. It could be bad things. I don't care what people say. I'm like just so past it—you could say whatever you want to say. Honestly, you're allowed to have your opinion. My life is far too complicated to worry about people that want to say mean things. I have a daughter, I have a family, I have a career. I have too much to worry about.”
ON HER S BY SERENA LINE: “I tried it before and it didn't work. Then I sat down and invested in myself and really put a really good effort behind it. Now I really get to express myself. I get to see how you can wear fashion so many different ways and how you can represent yourself. I have this whole big vision of what S by Serena is going to be.”
Read more about Serena’s foray into fashion and her big plans for her future here, and in the July 29–Aug. 5 issue of Sports Illustrated.
Odell Beckham Jr.
After being named SI’s 2018 Most Fashionable athlete, Odell Beckham Jr. has continued to push the boundaries of NFL style, pairing label-laden ensembles and flashy fits with his signature cockscomb of bleached curls and unapologetic attitude. Now out of New York and with the Cleveland Browns, the 26-year-old wide receiver is out to make his mark on a new city and franchise—expect to see jaw-dropping catches on the field and highlight-reel-worthy fashion.
It’s hard to predict what the NBA’s style trailblazer and self-proclaimed Fashion King will wear next, but that surprise factor and fearlessness are exactly what make Russell Westbrook a style icon. From arena tunnels before games to the streets of Paris during Fashion Week, the 30-year-old doesn’t waver from his “Why not?” approach to dressing, sporting everything from designer threads and the latest kicks, to vintage clothing, trendy Zara pieces and unconventional suits.
While James Harden’s style of play on the court might stir up some controversy, there’s no debate over his dominance in the fashion game. For the 2018–19 season, the Rockets guard carefully planned his daring and dashing ensembles, pairing his signature beard with everything from bright floral prints to neon suits and more.
Miami Heat (2018-19 season)
While he officially retired in April after 16 seasons in the NBA, Dwyane Wade still kept up his reputation as one of the league’s founding fathers of fashion this season. The 37-year-old has evolved from wearing baggy clothes and ill-fitting suits to becoming a trendsetter with his pre-game looks in the arena tunnels. From streetwear to bold accessories to monochromatic attire, Wade can do it all.
Five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova serves up style wherever she goes, bringing together sporty athleisure elements from tennis and a minimalist, elegant aesthetic to create her signature, modern-chic look.
A fixture on Formula One tracks and on the fashion scene, Lewis Hamilton is a natural risk-taker—don’t you have to be when you race a car at more than 200 mph for a living? The 34-year-old Brit is a veteran in sport and style, with five F1 world titles to his name and a style résumé that includes everything from sought-after streetwear to slim suits and, of course, an abundance of jewelry and accessories.
Portugal’s famed footballer Cristiano Ronaldo is also a perennial style leader, scoring with sleek, slim-fit suits and put-together casual looks, while also helping to create footwear and clothing designs for his menswear brand, CR7.
Los Angeles Lakers
LeBron James is a man of many NBA MVP awards, but beyond the basketball court, he’s also a consistent style winner. Dressing his 6’8”, 250-pound frame is no small task, but King James has mastered game-day dressing with expert tailoring, cool accessorizing and a polished mixing-and-matching of fabrics, patterns and colors.
New England Patriots
When it comes to his start in the NFL and his sense of style, Tom Brady has come a long way. The 41-year-old quarterback keeps getting better with age and experience, nailing sophisticated suits and subtle casual looks.
New Jersey Devils
He may be known for more timeless sartorial styles, but don’t let the suits and ties fool you: P.K. Subban always toes the line between classic and creative. Now a defenseman for the New Jersey Devils, Subban always makes sure he represents his team and family with respect, while still adding in a bit of his personality and flair to a look, with patterns, bold colors or one of his signature hats.
STYLE INSPIRATIONS: “I draw inspiration from a lot of different things. With Nashville, there’s such a rich culture there. I would say that I’ve probably picked up a few things from Nashville. But also things that are in pop culture. It’s all intertwined. Until Lil’ Wayne started wearing rocker belts and ripped jeans and chains from his jeans and really having that punk style, that’s when it became cool in pop culture. That blended with that urban look of the baggy jeans. Now look at it. It’s just as cool to wear tight jeans as baggy jeans. I just try to take influences from everything else, but most importantly I’m comfortable in everything that I wear.”
ONE PIECE YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “I would say the watch that my girlfriend [Lindsey Vonn] got me by Rolex. I definitely can’t live without that. It’s special. If I’m being honest, I don't know how many guys have a girlfriend who’s bought them a Rolex. I would say it’s my only prized possession, the only thing I can’t lose. It’s customized. I’ll tell you exactly what it is, because it’ll embarrass her: On the inside it says LOVE YOU ALWAYS. There’s a heart in there too.”
Broncos' linebacker Von Miller has the confidence to pull off eccentric ensembles that feature everything from cowboy hats to studded belts, gold chains and those signature specs.